MANCHESTER: Manchester City moved to within four points of the Premier League summit as Phil Foden’s goal earned them a nervy 1-0 victory over struggling Brighton & Hove Albion on Wednesday.
Foden’s clinical finish just before halftime on a sodden night at the Etihad Stadium proved enough for City to claim a fourth successive league win, but it was far from comfortable.
City had chances in the second half to stretch their lead with keeper Robert Sanchez and the woodwork coming to Brighton’s rescue but the visitors finished strongly.
The hosts could have eased the tension in stoppage time but substitute Raheem Sterling lashed a penalty over the crossbar.
City held on, however, to move into the top four with 32 points from 16 games, four behind leaders Manchester United and one behind champions Liverpool having played one match less.
Brighton’s winless league run now extends to nine and they are perched one place above the relegation zone.
After a slow start to the season Pep Guardiola’s side initially made steady progress up the table but are now accelerating and are in the thick of the title race.
“It definitely feels like we’re back to our best. We’ve taken confidence from the last few results,” Foden, who has scored four goals in his last six games, said.
“We could have done better today but overall I’m very proud of the team. It’s a great result.”
At times on Wednesday they were at their slick best with Kevin de Bruyne once again pulling the strings.
The Belgian teed up Riyad Mahrez for a far-post volley but Mahrez failed to make proper contact and he forced a great save by keeper Sanchez after a lightning break.
Brighton, tidy in possession and solid at the back, were close to reaching the interval on level terms but were undone by a superb City goal.
De Bruyne slipped a pass to Foden whose first touch left two defenders for dead before the England international dispatched a slide rule low shot inside the post and beyond the dive of Sanchez.
City turned the screws after the break and Mahrez again wasted a good opportunity, shooting wide after going clear.
Sanchez made a superb stop from Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva fired a shot against the goal frame.
Surprisingly, City lost their grip of the game in the final 20 minutes and Brighton sensed an opportunity.
Alex Mac Allister curled one effort just wide and Bernardo’s low ball across the area was agonisingly just out of reach of the sliding Davy Propper.
When Sanchez fouled De Bruyne it gave Sterling the opportunity to boost his meagre tally of four league goals this season but his kick cleared the bar.
There was a degree of relief for City at the final whistle but with seven successive wins in all competitions and comfortable fixtures ahead, they are looking ominous.
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